A reflection on time spent and lessons learned

    No matter how many things you read or hear about South by Southwest, you can’t truly understand what it’s like until you’ve experienced it firsthand. I write this about eighteen hours after returning to New York from Austin; I’ve spent the past six hours sifting through film footage from this year’s music/booze fest (held March 15-18) and my brain is weary and my memory is blurry. But I did come away with some observations:

    • Not many
      Asian males attend the festival. I believe that when you’re an outsider you
      either get hated or loved. SXSW is full of independent thinkers, so you�d think
      I’d be put on some type of pedestal. No dice on that.
    • The music
      hierarchy was in full-effect. It begins at registration. No sooner had I picked
      up my press wristband than I saw
      people with press badges, which was
      immediately depressing — not only because they could get into more things, but
      also because they were deemed worthy of more access than I was. That theme was
      prevalent all week, and it manifest itself when you would talk to people about
      what you do and who you work for or when you were trying to get in to certain
      events (obviously, lines didn�t exist for some people, depending on who they knew
      or who they were).
    • With all
      the running around and the endless alcohol flowing, it’s easy to forget to eat.
      I stayed up the whole night before I left because I didn�t want to miss my 6:30
      a.m. flight, and after I touched down in Austin and checked into my hotel, I
      spent the rest of the day listening to music and drinking booze — and not
      eating. I was obliterated by nightfall.
    • No one
      warned me about this: Austin�s 6th Street becomes a gigantic nightmare of a
      frat-party at night. Sometimes it was amusing, but on Saturday night — Saint
      Patrick’s Day — it was mostly scary.
    • The
      festival is like Groundhog Day in
      that every day is the same: Wake up after getting barely any sleep. Go to a
      show and drink. Go to another show and drink. Go to more shows that day than
      you normally go to all year, and drink at each one. Day turns to night. Go to
      shows and drink. Find out where the after-parties are. Learn that the
      after-party has been moved or shut down. Go to the hotel and sleep. Repeat.
    • There’s
      not enough dancing. That�s probably because the crowds are filled with industry
      people; they won�t dance, but they�ll drink like fishes. My best chance to try
      out my new moves was to watch the bands that reliably got the crowd going: the
      Faint, the Gossip, the Rapture. The only problem was negotiating the massive
      lines to see them.
    • The best
      place to conduct meetings: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on the Sunday
      after the festival. I got there a bit early, but regardless I ran into artists
      (Ghostface, Marissa Nadler), label people (Friendly Fire, K, Kill Rock Stars,
      Touch & Go), publicists (Cornerstone), people from other music publications
      (DIW, Stereogum, XXL) and our ad agency (Indieclick).
    • SXSW is
      not a vacation (four days of watching shows twelve hours a day is not relaxing)
      and it is not reality. (I hardly remembered that the NCAA basketball tournament
      began. I hardly remembered basketball.)
    • Given the enormity of the festival and the likelihood it will only get bigger, I’m already going to get planning on SXSW2008 by booking a hotel.

      ***

     

    [more:]Festival Web site:
    http://2007.sxsw.com/



    Pics and
    Videos

    :

    amy-millan-2.jpg
    Amy
    Millan

    Emo’s
    (Pics, Video)
    antibalas.jpg
    Antibalas

    Habana Calle / NY2LON Party by Brooklyn Vegan
    (Pics, Video)

    apostle-of-hustle.jpg
    Apostle
    of Hustle

    Mohawk
    (Pics, Video)

    a-trak-kid-sister.jpg
    A-Trak,
    Kid Sister

    Beauty Bar
    (Pics)
    boggs.jpg
    The Boggs

    Fader Fort
    (Pics, Video)

    bondo-de-role.jpg
    Bonde
    do Role

    Red’s Scoot Inn
    (Pics, Video)
    datarock.jpg
    Datarock

    Fader Fort
    (Pics, Video)

    david-vandervelde.jpg
    David
    Vandervelde

    Saengerrunde Hall / Diesel U-Music
    Party (Pics, Video)
    devin-the-dude.jpg
    Devin
    the Dude

    Club Visions
    (Pics, Video)
    flosstradamus.jpg
    Flosstradamus

    Red’s Scoot Inn (Pics, Video)

    foreign-islands.jpg
    Foreign Islands

    Beauty Bar
    (Video)
    fratellis.jpg
    The Fratellis

    Fader Fort
    (Pics, Video)
    hot-club-de-paris.jpg
    Hot Club De Paris

    Fader Fort
    (Pics, Video)
    illinois.jpg
    Illinois

    Saengerrunde Hall/Diesel U-Music Party
    (Pics, Video)
    kenna.jpg
    Kenna

    Fader Fort
    (Pics, Video)
    marnie-stern.jpg
    Marnie Stern

    Emo’s Lounge
    (Pics, Video)
    matt-and-kim-2.jpg
    Matt & Kim

    Beauty Bar
    (Video)
    matt-and-kim.jpg
    Matt & Kim

    Saengerrunde Hall/Diesel U-Music Party
    (Pics, Video)
    no-age.jpg
    No Age

    Ms. Bea’s
    (Pics, Video)
    old-time-relijun.jpg
    Old Time Relijun

    Emo’s Lounge
    (Pics, Video)
    oxford-collapse.jpg
    Oxford Collapse

    Emo’s Lounge
    (Pics, Video)
    pipettes.jpg
    The Pipettes

    La Zona Rosa
    (Pics, Video)
    plastic-little.jpg
    Plastic Little

    Beauty Bar
    (Pics, Video)
    rapture.jpg
    The Rapture

    La Zona Rosa
    (Pics, Video)
    redman.jpg
    Redman

    Fader Fort
    (Pics, Videos)
    rub.jpg
    The Rub

    Fader Fort
    (Pics, Video)
    slim-moon.jpg
    Slim Moon & What Army

    Ms. Bea’s / Todd P Showcase
    (Pics, Video)
    spank-rock-amanda-blank.jpg
    Spank Rock & Amanda Blank

    Red’s Scoot Inn
    (Pics, Video)
    spoon.jpg
    Spoon

    Stubb’s
    (Pics, Video)
    stooges.jpg
    The Stooges

    Stubb’s
    (Pics, Video)
    thunderbirds-are-now.jpg
    Thunderbirds Are Now!

    Mohawk
    (Pics, Video)
    tiny-masters-of-today.jpg
    Tiny Masters of Today

    Ms. Bea’s
    (Pics, Video)
    tokyo-police-club.jpg
    Tokyo Police Club

    Saengerrunde Hall/Diesel U-Music Party
    (Pics, Video)
    winterkids.jpg
    Winterkids

    (Pics)
    yacht.jpg
    Yacht 

    Ms. Bea’s / Todd P Showcase
    (Pics, Video)
    zach.jpg
    Zach Galifianakis

    Cedar St.
    (Video)